For days, the rain hasn’t stopped tumbling out of thick woolen clouds. Slowly crawling across the monochromatic canopy, these persistent clouds wrap their heavy grey fingers tightly around the leafy crowns of the brilliant rain-soaked trees. Even when I push back the patterned curtains as far as the window frame will allow, no light comes through the glass. The sound of raindrops crashing against the rooftop is periodically punctuated by sharp jarring claps of thunder.
Outside, brave little seedlings are gasping for breath while new blossoms hold their eyes tightly closed against the rain. Shoots of bright green grass struggle to keep their slim heads above water. I see an orange cat dart across the street. He struggles to maintain aloofness, but it is clear that the weather has taken a severe toll on his dignity. The mail retrieved from the streetside box is soggy and lifeless, the adhesive on the envelopes succumbing to the humidity. Even inside, newly washed clothes hang limply, moisture stubbornly clinging to the threads and fibers.
On a day like this, what better thing to do than to curl up with a book? I just received a brand-new copy of Vegan Rustic Cooking Through the Seasons, authored by Diana White of the UK’s Vegan-Organic Network, an organization whose fascinating farming methods go a step beyond traditional organic farming.
How does Vegan-Organic differ from Organic? For starters, Vegan-Organic farmers don’t use manure. Proponents of the method point out that it is possible for traces of pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones to persist in the manure even after it has been composted. By not trucking in fertilizer from outside sources, Vegan-Organic farmers are able to strictly control what is being placed on and around their crops. The concept of plant-based fertilizing is not new and is as earthy as it gets — think of the deep, rich, dark soil that covers the ground of a shaded hardwood forest.
In Vegan-Organic Farming, the soil is allowed to ready itself naturally through the use of earthworms, beetles, and healthy soil fungi. Weed and pest populations are kept under control through the careful and scientific rotation of crops. Not only does this maximize the fertility of the soil, it also avoids nutrient leaching and ensures that the growing plants will thrive.
Diana White, who authored “Vegan Rustic Cooking Through the Seasons”, is not a newcomer to the Vegan-Organic scene. In fact, Diana crafted the recipes in this book around the ever-changing produce emerging from her own vegan-organic garden.
This volume is wonderfully arranged, with a detailed index that allows you to look up recipes by ingredient — tremendously helpful if you find yourself staring at an overflowing basket of ripe garden veggies, unsure how to proceed. As evidenced by the title, the recipes are also tagged by season.
What I like most about this cookbook is that it is not limited to one particular cuisine or style of eating. Main dish entrees span the globe from Moussaka Vegan Style to Irish Stew with Dumplings to Chapattis with Various Fillings to Scotch Broth to Gardener’s Cottage Pie to Nishimi Style Hot Pot.
And it doesn’t stop there. The pages are host to an abundance of quick and easy recipes for basic sauces, creative pastas, and balanced salads. I also love the practical reference chart on sautes. The author has listed a selection of various proteins, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, garnishes and sauces — choose one from each section to create a nourishing saute. And if you’re a sweet tooth, take heart. Scones, puddings and cakes have not been omitted from the repertoire.
Paging through Vegan Rustic Cooking for the Seasons, I must admit that the current gloomy weather is drawing me toward Diana’s amazing autumn soups, and not the lighter spring fare. That’s what I get for judging the season by the sky rather than the calendar. Now if only I could find the chapter with recipes for “Rainy Season”. Hmmm.